Foundations of circadian medicine

PLoS Biol. 2022 Mar 24;20(3):e3001567. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001567. eCollection 2022 Mar.


The circadian clock is an evolutionarily highly conserved endogenous timing program that structures physiology and behavior according to the time of day. Disruption of circadian rhythms is associated with many common pathologies. The emerging field of circadian medicine aims to exploit the mechanisms of circadian physiology and clock-disease interaction for clinical diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. In this Essay, we outline the principle approaches of circadian medicine, highlight the development of the field in selected areas, and point out open questions and challenges. Circadian medicine has unambiguous health benefits over standard care but is rarely utilized. It is time for clock biology to become an integrated part of translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Clocks* / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm

Grants and funding

This work was in part supported by funds from the German Research Foundation (; TRR186/A17 and KR 1989/12-1 to AK; OS353-10/1 and OS353-11/1 to HO), the European Horizon 2020 program (; CLOCK 846016 to AK's lab), the Michael J. Fox Foundation (; Foxpark I & II to HO), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (; Female Professors Program III to TL), Joachim Herz Foundation (; Add-On Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Life Sciences to AF). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.